Do you know what God wants us to do with people as opposed to things? We are supposed to love people and use material things. But do you know what is happening to the world today? People love material things and use people. This is the opposite. This is because man is following the devil. Jesus is our example. Let us look at Him and learn something about this.
One of the things that sin has done in this world is to turn everything upside down. Our sense of values is upside down. The world is full of people who think that money is more important than God. With their lips they say that God is more important than money, but in their lives, what urges them, motivates them, what they live for, proves that money is more important than God. Don’t you think that such a world is living upside down?
In the midst of this upside down world, God has sent His children to show them the right way to live. But how are God’s children living? How many Christians have you met in your life that, by observing their life, you could say that they believe that God is more important than money? There are very few; very, very few. The vast majority of Christians in our country also believe that money is more important than God. This is one example of an upside down world. When money becomes more important than God, money also becomes more important than people. We love money more than we love human beings. This is tragic.
Jesus has come to show us the truth that God is more important than money, that people are more important than money. If that understanding has not come into your mind, my friend, I want to tell you the truth, that your mind is still perverted; It is upside down. Things have been given by God for us to use. Now, all material things, money, food, fruits, vegetables, and everything in the world has been given, not to be loved but to be used. But people have been given to us not to be used but to be loved. Do you use people?
Do you know that the world is full of factories and offices where businessmen use people for their own ends? To achieve their own ends, they use people. Of course, they pay them a salary as little as possible, but in order to promote themselves and promote their business. Well, we can understand that in the business world. But the same thing is happening in many Christian organisations and Churches where so-called Christian leaders use people to promote themselves. We can say that such people have not understood the love of Jesus. They have not understood what it is to value people. They use people for their own ends. They have not been converted to a right way of thinking; their mind has not yet been renewed. But how is it with Jesus?
Jesus never used anybody to promote Himself; He loved people. He knew that people were far more important than material things. Think of Judas Iscariot, you will see a clear example. Judas Iscariot was the treasurer of that band of disciples. Whenever people gave money to that group that were with Jesus, Judas kept that money as a treasurer. Now, have you ever thought, to whom where the people giving that money? Were they giving it because they appreciated Judas or because they appreciated Jesus? That is clear. They gave their money in appreciation for Jesus’ ministry; for His healing perhaps, for His preaching. Jesus took it and told Judas to keep it. It was not Judas’ money at all. It was money that came because of Jesus’ ministry.
Well, what was Judas doing with that money? He was stealing it, using it for himself. Still Jesus loved Judas. He was willing to lose that money, if He could save Judas’ soul. He was not bothered that Judas was stealing that money. He was concerned about His soul. That is an example of Jesus’ attitude to people. He wanted to save people from the corruption of sin, which had made them value material-things more than people. Jesus shared the burdens of people. He had words of kindness for those who were defeated in life’s battle; words of encouragement for the downtrodden. He never considered a single human being as worthless. They may be uncultured, crude, not able to speak properly, or illiterate, but they were people who needed to be redeemed, and He had come to give His life for them.
When the Bible says that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God, this is what happens; it makes us like this towards people. I want to ask you, as a Christian, if you are a Christian, has the Holy Spirit filled you? You know a lot of people speak about being filled with the Holy Spirit. What is the proof that your heart has been filled with the Holy Spirit? The answer is in Romans 5:5 ‘‘The love of God has been spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” One mark of being filled with the spirit is that your heart is filled with love for people and you will be right side up. You will not be upside down. You will value people more than material things.
Jesus never valued material things; He used them. He worked in a carpenter shop where He was using material things all the time; working with them to earn His living as a carpenter for many years. Can you imagine some neighbour’s child walking into that carpenter shop one day, and break something expensive which Jesus had just made? What do you think Jesus would have done? Do you think that Jesus would have got upset and shouted at that child and chased Him out of the carpenter shop? No, I think Jesus would have just picked up that child, kissed him and said, ‘Don’t worry My son, it is okay. I can make another one.’
He loved people. He loved children. Material things didn’t mean anything to Him. Material things were to be used to help people. He did not become a carpenter in order to be rich. No, He loved people and not things. When the Holy Spirit renews our mind, you know what happens? We are able to see in the way God sees. We see people as God’s sees people. We see material things as God sees material things. And, I believe, one of the most important prayers you need to pray, if you want to be a spiritual man, is to ask the Lord to help you to see people as He sees them; to see material things as He sees them.
The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:17 that God rejoices over His people with singing. Now think of that verse: God rejoicing over all people, and not over perfect people. There are no perfect people anywhere in the world. He is rejoicing over imperfect people who have expressed a desire for Him and who want to love Him with all their imperfections. When Jesus walked on this earth, He shared His Father’s joy over people. Think of the disciples that were with Jesus. They were not perfect. They were ordinary, stumbling sinners, just like you and me. But Jesus looked at them the way the Father looked at them. He loved them. He wasn’t always criticising them for their fault, their awkwardness and their crudeness, because He was compassionate.
We read in Mark 12:37 that common people heard Him gladly. People detected the beautiful aroma that came out of His spirit; the love of God that flowed out of His heart. Jesus was constantly moved with compassion when He saw sick people, needy people, hungry people or shepherd-less people. He put Himself in their shoes. He made their misery His own and that is how He was able to comfort them. You know, you can comfort the misery of other people, my friend, only if you identify with them. It is very easy to speak nice words, but you have got to put yourself in their shoes to understand what they are going through. And that is what Jesus did.
You know, we have used our imagination so much in the past for evil things. Is that not true? You have used your imagination to think dirty things, bitter things about other people, and all types of evil things. Now that we are converted, what do we use our imagination for? Most Christians use their imagination for nothing. Let me tell you something good that can put your imagination for good use. Use your imagination to put yourself in the situations of other people who are suffering, the ones you know around you. When you see it, when you hear about it, put yourself in their shoes. Use your imagination to think that you are there; living in that little hut or living with that difficult husband or difficult wife or having a problem child as if you were the parent. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what they are going through. That would be the proof of your love. Jesus did that.
He was so grieved once when He saw men hard-hearted, unwilling to let a man with a withered hand be healed in the synagogue. One day, as He walked by, He saw a widow going in a funeral procession where her only son had died. He stopped the whole funeral procession, opened the coffin, raised the boy from the dead, and gave him back to the mother. This miracle was not to show people His power. No, it was to show them the love of God. He had compassion. Every miracle of Jesus rose out of compassion. If you seek to do miracles for God, and if you don’t have compassion, you will never be able to follow Jesus. You are unfit to be His servant.
Jesus always died to His own rights. He had no tears for His own grief and sorrows. But He shed drops of blood for our sorrows; He carried our burdens. He was never offended by anything that people said or did to him. He was never offended by the failure of others to do what they should have done for Him, because He never came here to serve. He never imposed burdens on others. He came to carry other people’s burdens, to serve them, not to be served. Because He lived like this, His love flowed out like a sweet perfume and people were drawn to Him.
Why the message of Christ is no more accepted in our country? – Is it not because Christians do not seek to have this love. If you are a Christian, claiming the name of Christ, I want to encourage you. Seek with all your heart, that you will have such a love, like a sweet perfume coming forth from your life.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.